JOURNAL ARTICLE

Correlates of lesbian sexual functioning

J Kathleen Tracy, John Junginger
Journal of Women's Health 2007, 16 (4): 499-509
17521253

OBJECTIVE: The objectives of this descriptive study were (1) to characterize sexual functioning of lesbian women, (2) to validate the use of a modified version of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) with lesbians, and (3) to evaluate correlates of sexual functioning in lesbians.

METHODS: The current study was a cross-sectional examination of correlates of sexual functioning in lesbian women. Participants were 350 self-identified lesbians, aged > or = 18 (mean age 35.5 +/- 11.4 years), who completed an anonymous, Internet-based survey. The survey instrument included measures of sociodemographics, sexual functioning, psychological symptoms, and relationship characteristics.

RESULTS: Adequate reliability was demonstrated for all domains of the FSFI, as well as for the total score. Reliability coefficients were comparable to those obtained with the normative sample of heterosexual women. In univariate analyses, age, psychological symptoms, and relationship characteristics were related to many dimensions of sexual functioning in lesbians. Older age was associated with less desire for sexual activity, greater difficulty with lubrication during sexual activity, and lower scores for overall sexual functioning. Psychological symptoms were associated with decreased arousal, pleasure (i.e., orgasm), satisfaction, overall sexual functioning, and increased difficulty with lubrication during sexual activity. Higher relationship satisfaction was associated with increased arousal during sexual activity, less difficulty with lubrication during sexual activity, greater pleasure/orgasm, greater sexual satisfaction, and better overall sexual functioning. Psychological symptoms and relationship characteristics were consistently associated with aspects of sexual functioning in multivariate models.

CONCLUSIONS: Age, psychological symptoms, and relationship characteristics were related to some but not all indices of female sexual functioning. Findings provide a solid empirical basis upon which to explore other determinants of sexual functioning in lesbians.

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